What is Really Real?

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17,18

This is one of my very favorite verses of Scripture, a beautifully stated general description of reality. To the non-believer it is unmitigated, preposterous nonsense. At best nothing more than the product of an overwrought or perverse imagination. At worst a dangerous delusion. But to the believer this is the emphasis for living needed to withstand the daily bombardment of this world’s truly monstrous nonsense of evil and destruction. The things you see are not the ultimate reality, nor the things you can count on, nor depend on; these things will fall away, will always ultimately disappoint. The things you can’t see are the things that will last, and so to speak, are more concrete than, well, concrete. To the unsaved this is the stuff of fairy tales. To those in Christ, the ultimate reality.

The believer knows instinctively that Paul is absolutely right when in this statement. What is not so clear, and bears stressing, is that all the negative things the world throws at us are the things that God ultimately is using to make us grow and flourish. The fruit of which is something so wonderful, so magnificent, so phenomenal, that Paul was forbidden to vocalize it with anyone, since no human alive is ready to hear of such things. (2 Cor. 12:2-4) An “eternal weight of glory.”

A new television show, ABC’s “Once Upon A Time,” which I think is the best show on TV this season, possibly one of the best shows in recent memory, can be seen as a parable of the above verses. The show with great imagination and flourish brings to life many characters from fairy tales we know from childhood, brings them to life with quality writing, great acting, and a captivating cast. The proposition is that these characters really did exist once upon a time and because of a curse they are all now inhabitants of a small town in Maine, unable to leave, living their lives oblivious to their associated character in the old tales. None of them remember who they were in the stories, and, as the plot develops, only one character in the show can break the curse and set them free from the prison of this back woods town. For such a unique storyline, the telling of the tale is quite entertaining and engaging.

The parallels between the show and the world are abundant. The non-Christian also has no real idea what the correct reality is. He is under a curse that blocks what once was open reception to the truth of the creation and his Creator. The unbeliever has his sense perception of the things of the spirit dulled from moment to moment, day after day, year after year, of only seeing the things physically around him, refusing to pay attention to the things he can’t see. But this veil Paul says is lifted from our eyes by turning to Christ. (2 Cor. 3:14-16) Even though the most hardened individual has still heard a lot about the Gospel and what Christ has done and can do the veil remains, his ears dulled, his mind and heart closed. But those things which are not seen are right in front of his face.

“The things which are not seen are eternal.” In a world of shifting moral values, collapsing economies, devaluation of currencies, it gives great comfort to know that the things eternal are not going to fade away.

[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]

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